DRMacIver's Notebook

Seeing clearly

Seeing clearly

For the last day or two I've doing something I haven't done for years, and it's making everything so much clearer.

That is to say, I've got my glasses on.

They're not especially good glasses. Or rather they're very nice glasses that have the wrong prescription, because I got them in 2019 when I finally had to acknowledge that my vision was decaying and that ugh fine I should get some glasses. The prescription was barely enough to matter - a mild astigmatism in my left eye, a little bit of short sightedness in my right - but it was enough that I was starting to notice and it seemed worth getting glasses to correct it.

Then I didn't wear glasses for the next two and a bit years.

I still in some sense don't "need" glasses. I can function fine without them. My eyes are even driving standard still. But there's been an increasingly noticable amount of eye strain. It's not that I can't read signs at a distance, or look at fine details across the room, it's just increasingly obvious that this is hard work. I've had a lot of tired eyes and headaches recently.

I've known for literal months that the lack of glasses was causing me trouble, so I did the obvious thing: I left them sitting exactly where they were, untouched. I certainly didn't put them on my face.

I've been wearing them for the last couple of days because I'm going to be driving a car tomorrow and that "driving standard" claim is, while technically true, not quite the standard I hold myself to when driving a car. I also don't drink when I'm going to be driving, not even an amount under the legal limit.

I really am safe to drive a car at my current level of vision. But... honestly compels me to admit that I'd certainly be safer if I had slightly better vision. It's probably not enough to matter, but being at the wheel of a deadly weapon certainly puts you in contact with the reality of the world in a way that is hard for me to ignore. I can much more easily pretend my refusal to wear glasses isn't causing me a headache than I can pretend that it isn't increasing my chances of killing people.

This all makes me sound like a very nervous driver. I'm not. I'm pretty confident of my driving ability, and being nervous behind the wheel makes me less rather than more safe. So, I drive confidently, but when not in the car I acknowledge that for all their upsides, a car has an unpleasantly high statistical murder-suicide rate, and I make decisions in advance that reduce that rate.

Further, radically changing your vision for the first time when you get behind the wheel of the aforementioned statistical murder-suicide machine is, to borrow a technical term, fucking stupid, so I've been wearing my glasses for the last few days to get used to them.

The prescription isn't quite right, as I mentioned, and so I have begrudgingly booked an optician appointment for next week, but it's still a lot better than without the glasses. It's not an "oh that's what a tree looks like" moment - I can see trees just fine thank you very much - but it's a "Oh I'm supposed to be able to read signs at that distance am I?" moment. No doubt after I've had my eyes checked again and got some new glasses (or possibly just new lenses for these ones if that's an option) there will be similar revelations in my future for me to ignore.

I don't know how good you are at reading subtext, but chances are good you might have picked up on the subtle hint here and there that I really don't want to wear glasses.

I should, perhaps, give you some context. Up until 2010 if I didn't have my glasses on I would have to hold a book several inches in front of my face to read. I probably wouldn't literally walk into things, because large blurry objects are still large objects that I can see coming, but if you were on the other side of the room from me I would be recognising you from height and colour palette only. Then in 2010 a nice man fired laser beams at my eyes and I acquired ~superpowers~ the ability to see things near-perfectly without further vision correction. Wait, no, I was right the first time. Superpowers. Compared to my previous state this definitely felt like superpowers.

Unfortunately, a decade passed, and during that time I failed to figure out a way to transcend the frailties of my mortal form, and as a result my eyes got older and weaker again, and now here I am with a need to strap an awkward contraption of glass and metal to my face in order to bring my basic functional capabilities up to human baseline and have fewer headaches.

My objection is not aesthetic. I look good in glasses. It's a very different look, especially given that the last time I regularly war glasses I had hair, but in many ways I look more like me in glasses than I do when not wearing glasses. Although, truthfully, that's maybe part of the problem - the me I look like is the me of my 20s. Maybe the me of my mid to late teens even. The me of my preteens and early teens wore awkward giant dorky glasses, before I started wearing thin frames and smaller rims, but I spent a long time with my face looking like this and a lot of it wasn't particularly good, and I'm not particularly proud of the version of me that existed back then. I want to reach back and give him a hug and tell him everything is going to be OK, but I don't particularly want to be him.

I don't know if this is actually my real objection. It might be just a clever theory. The actual complaints that are coming up are that glasses feel weird on my face. I'm not used to the weight and the feeling of htem, and I feel hyperaware of their presence on my nose, and of the slight reduction in peripheral vision. It's likely that I'll just get used to it, but I don't especially want to.

Another resentment is definitely that I don't like aging. Yeah, me and everyone else, I know. Glasses feel like a particularly cruel reminder of it though - you know that problem you thought you'd fixed? Unfortunately, bodies!

I suspect some of this is also just a sort of... resentment at being forced to make a choice about a tradeoff? I've never really had to choose whether to wear glasses or not before. As a young child, I didn't know that seeing things was an option. As a slightly older child, I could choose between being able to see things and not being able to see things, so I went with the one that was obviously better. For most of the last 12 years, I've not needed to choose whether to wear glasses or not, because why would I I didn't need them?

Now though, I'm caught like Buridan's ass between two very similar options, except instead of choosing between two delicious bales of hay, I get to choose between two slightly crappy options.

I'm aware that many people are absolutely fine with glasses, and that I probably will once again become such a person and if not will eventually find another nice man (or woman, or other) to fire lasers at my face, but for now please forgive my petty resentments at the constraints placed upon me by my biology.